Please introduce yourselves! Who are you?
We consider ourselves to be researchers, teachers, authors and advocates for the vulva. However—because that title is a bit long—our business cards say that we are researcher scientists at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. We come from different disciplines but have both focused our research on understanding how women think and feel about their vulva/vaginas. In fact, we both did our dissertations on the vulva/vagina. We met at a conference in 2008 and were thrilled to be able to work together. We have since conducted a variety of research projects that we are very excited about. However, this book has been one of our proudest moments as it has allowed us to reach a more diverse audience. In short, we strive to be revulvationaries (we just made this word up but we like it)!
Tell us a little about Read My Lips:
The book still feels a little like a dream. When Vanessa first came to Indiana University, Debby and Vanessa sat down to create a ‘dream list’ of projects that they wanted to work on together. This book was at the top of the list. We are thankful that our publisher (Rowman & Littlefield) took a chance on us and we are so grateful. We think that Read My Lips represents our eclectic, quirky backgrounds. In addition to science-backed sex and health information, there are stories, quotes, quizzes and crafts (yes—we said crafts!) As researchers, we are proud to say that all the research is empirically-validated (and sometimes conducted within our own labs). However, while based on science, we wrote Read My Lips envisioning we were talking to our very best girlfriends. In a certain way, those who read RML are just that—dear friends through a love/appreciation/interest in the vulva.
What inspired you to write this book?
We have talked with A LOT of people over the past several years about vulvas/vaginas including colleagues, students, friends and family. While some are uncomfortable talking about it, most have been thankful for the opportunity to discuss/ask questions about a topic that is too often ignored. So, we wanted to write a book to give people accurate information and open conversations about the vulva/vagina. We wanted to write a book that would have something for every generation of women (and those who love/came from them).
Who should read this book and why?
We like to say that this book is for “anyone who has a vulva, loves someone with a vulva or has come from a vagina.” In other words, we are hopeful that it has a little something for everyone. Unfortunately, the vulva/vagina remains a topic that few people feel comfortable discussing. So, a lot of the information out there may not be accurate. However, the reason we wrote Read My Lips was not only to correct misperceptions (although we are certainly happy when it does); it was to provide readers a guide that would help them celebrate and learn to love their own and/or their partners’ bodies a little more.
What surprising facts did you discover when writing the book?
How much we had to say about vulvas! We talk about vulvas all day long but we nervous that we wouldn’t have enough to say to fill 300 pages. We were (very) wrong. It turns out we actually had to edit down the book once we were finished. Also, we interviewed 1000 men and women before we wrote the book. We weren’t necessarily surprised—but we were delighted—about how those responses helped us to continuously change our thoughts, feelings and beliefs about vulvas. We learn something new every time we talk to someone about their experiences such as how some women have come to love their vulvas and vaginas, sometimes in the face of very difficult situations.
We are thrilled to be able to donate a book in partnership with GladRags as we share the belief that women should care for and celebrate their bodies in ways that make them happy and healthy!